Saturday, January 26, 2019

Racial Justice Summit 2019

Today Dear Husband and I took part in the 21st Racial Justice Summit, hosted by the Black & White Reunion at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. This group has helped us get connected to progressive people and groups in Pittsburgh. This year, DH chose to volunteer stuffing programs, serving food, monitoring rooms, and cleaning up. I attended as a participant, sitting in on panels about race and immigration, the criminal justice system, and genealogy for black families. We were encouraged to consider that the United States has only been a functioning democracy since African-Americans secured the ability to vote with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in 1960s. The fact that the canisters of tear gas used in Gaza and in Ferguson, MO, were made just 1.5 hours from here reminds us of the intersectionality of peoples subjected to state violence. The most moving session to me was watching a 2005 documentary about the 1995 death of 31-year-old black businessman Johnny Gammage during what should have been a routine traffic stop, the failed trials, and so many marches held on familiar streets. I also listened to a black filmmaker talk about trying to uncover ways in which poor Pittsburghers were evicted from the East Liberty neighborhood in the name of progress and gentrification. It was a representation of some of the best of what the Steel City is trying to be.

Black Pittsburghers frequently point out that there are (at least) two Pittsburghs. There's the exciting sci-med-tech of the universities, hospitals, Google, and Uber. And then there are the locals who are still trying to get a fair shake while dealing with inequalities of health and wealth, not to mention discriminatory policing so bad that it led to the first consent decree in the country (Department of Justice oversight over a police department). This annual summit provides time and space for people of color to refresh and reconnect, and for white people to learn and find ways to help. Recognizing my many privileges in life--including coming to Pittsburgh as a recent transplant to participate in those growth industries--I went with the intention to listen more than I talked. I came, as the saying among people of color goes, "to take a seat." After a day full of moving stories and hard truths, it finally happened during the last panel of the day, on cultural narratives. An elderly white Jewish woman challenged one of panelists (a Palestinian woman) over her characterization of Zionism, violence by the state of Israel, and the intifada. They interrupted each other, there was shouting from around the room, and finally the questioner gave up and left entirely. I'm afraid that exchange confirmed many stereotypes. There were certainly heightened emotions on all sides, especially given the synagogue massacre here less than 4 months ago. Palestinians want their country back. Jews are still hunted. Black people still die at the hands of police despite Johnny Gammage, the consent decree, Michael Brown, and Black Lives Matter.

Of the long list of ground rules that came with our participant packet, the one that stood out to me most was the injunction to "leave the stories, take the lessons." If someone shared a painful part of their life during a breakout session, that was to be kept in confidence; but if we learned anything from the hard conversations happening around us, we should incorporate that into our lives. One of the organizers reminded us as the last panel broke up, that if we do nothing differently now, we will have wasted a snowy Saturday. But if we seek to be the change we want to see in the world, then it will have been time well invested. Here's to knowing when to speak up and when to take a seat, using our feet and voices for the oppressed, and voting like it matters (because it does!).

Friday, January 25, 2019

What I'm Eating These Days: Breakfast Edition

Remember when I told you I was trying to branch out more for breakfast? Well my new favorite savory* oatmeal is plain oats nuked for 1 minute x2, a sunny-side-up egg, sweet pickle relish (hiding under the egg), shredded white cheese (like mozarella, gouda, or parmesan), Old Bay spice, and pepitas. It's a creamy-spicy way to start the morning that goes well with a strong tea like dandelion root or Irish breakfast. Do you ever cook savory oatmeal--how?

*My favorite sweet oatmeal is still cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins, and walnuts!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Bridge of Friendship

It was somebody's idea that we "play bridge together like a bunch of old ladies." Except none of us knew how to play. But I had been dying to host a tea party since my MIL gave me a teapot and four (mismatched) china cups and saucers. So we got together at my house, where I'd even retrieved from the basement several of the hand-tatted doilies from Dear Husband's Oma, to drink lots of tea, eat baked goods and bridge mix (chocolate-covered nuts and raisins), and ask the internet to teach us the card-game version of tennis. While the scoring is complicated, we all agreed on "4 no trump." Dear Husband had gone to church to practice some Beethoven in advance of his OLLI class this spring, so in his honor I put on a succession of Beethoven CDs that eventually gave way to the jamming tunes of Stefan Obermeier's Beethoven Re-Mixed album of electronica-infused classical music. That was about the time the knitted finger puppets made their appearance. I will say that even though we barely scratched the surface of strategy and scoring, there was trash talking, and puns, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Same time next week?

J.P.: "This tea made me a little hoarse."

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Wearable art from CSVS Designs

I know such talented people! My college suitie has started her own business upcycling costume jewelry into retro-glam home and personal accessories: CSVS Designs. I recently acquired three pieces from her: a knit headband with butterflies, a green and real cuff bracelet, and a white enamel necklace with a jewelled floral pin decoration. The last one has becone my go-to statement piece, because while I probably would not worn either piece alome, together they go with so many of my existing outifts. One day I received 3-4 compliments, including from men and strangers. Here are some of the ways I have worn it.

She also makes picture frames, handbags, and wall art. Her prices are totally reasonable, and she ships around the country. What is more, she does this in between gigs as a violist and mother to two small boys. I am so proud of her.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

What Residency Looks Like LII: A good time was had by all

Sometimes residency looks like bowling at an iconic Pittsburgh location on a snowy Saturday evening with your colleagues. H. the project specialist with a soft side throw soundly whomped us with multiple strikes, the only person to break 100 in both games. Dear Husband got a strike in each game and ended in the 90s. I was dead last in the first match at 64 but put up a respectable 90-something in the second. Some of the residents could put a mean spin on the ball and send the pins flying with a satisfying clatter. A few interns who had not grown up in the States were bowling for the first time. I was the resident cheerleader, bemoaning gutter balls and congratulating players for knocking down any pins at all. A good time was had by all.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Brunch Bunch

A good friend invited us to a brunch today, so I took the opportunity to try a new recipe that I knew wouldn't play well at home, namely Sweet Potato Casserole. The dish was mentioned in our November-December co-op newsletter, just in time for the holidays. Which may explain why it was difficult to find fresh or frozen cranberries in January. Nevertheless, it turned out well and appeals to a variety of eaters. The coconut milk just comes across as creamy in the final version (I didn't use shredded coconut), and the dried cranberries and walnuts were crunchy compared to the soft tubers. Originally marketed as "paleo," it is also vegan and gluten free. While the nuts and coconut may limit its appeal to those with allergies or aversions, it does make a pretty and tasty savory dish to go with all the meats and sweets you typically encounter at a potluck brunch.

3 lbs sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cups fresh/frozen cranberries OR 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1 can full-fat coconut milk (13-15 oz)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (almonds or pecans would work too)
1-3 tbsp maple syrup
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
+/- 2 tbsp shredded coconut
+/- 1 tsp coconut oil

Heat oven to 400F. Bake sweet potatoes ~30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix coconut milk, spices, and maple syrup for the sauce. For the topping, mix the cranberries, nuts, +/- shredded coconut and oil. When the tubers are cool enough to handle, peel, slice thickly, and layer in a 9"x13" baking dish. Pour the sauce over them and strew the topping. Pop back in the oven, uncovered 20-25 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Best served warm.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

What Residency Looks Like LI: Combining the best of both worlds

Should we choose between working and relaxing? No, combine the best of both worlds! Drink a hard cider and listen to blues on the radio while reading those articles for your presentation.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Rememberlutions 2018: Here's to the Year that Was

I have a tradition of collecting good memories throughout the year to look back on at the end. 2018's jar was full of ticket stubs and little scraps of paper. Here they are, in no particular order, with some as-yet unpublished photos.

In January, Dear Husband and I thumbed our noses at the frigid temps of the "bomb cyclone" with tropical drinks and friends S.B. and R.B. I also visited my paternal relatives in Charlotte, NC, for MLK Weekend.

In March, we visited family (and alligators!) in Florida for Spring Break. Then M.A.P. (My Awesome Parents) visited, and we ate our way through Allentown.

In April I treated myself to "Potted Potter," a comedic abridged version of the books/movies. We also watched a local production of Jane Eyre at WQED's Fred Rogers Studio. Unfortunately, their Jane was much too feisty for me. In my head, she was quieter and mousier.

In May I traveled back to Champaign for two retirement parties and to see old friends. I want to remember the smell of lilacs there in May.

In June we laughed our @$$es off at The Reduced Shakespeare performance.

In August, DH and I celebrated 13 years of marriage, and in October, 20 years of being a couple. (Flowers above.)

Over Labor Day weekend, DH, friend A.S., and I visited the Art of the Brick exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center, where we geeked out at the amazing things Nathan Sawaya can do with Legos.

In October we memorialized my grandfather with military and Sokol honors (right). Also, being an Elite Yelper for the second year in a row entitled us to attend the best Halloween party in the city.

In December, DH and I joined friends J.H.R. and K.R. at Peter Jackson's British Great War documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old.

I want to remember...
- The intern who thought I was so good I must be a third-year resident (I was a second-year at the time).
- That time I predicted a patient had "sick sinus syndrome" and the electrophysiology fellow disagreed--at first!
- Every time another resident sought my opinion as a colleague.
- Being mistaken for a new attending because of my Palliative Care phone skills.
- How it felt to be challenged to speak to medical students the way I talk to patients.
- Every attending, fellow, intern, and medical student who told me how pleased they were that I was their senior resident.
- Seeing my first Acute Tubular Necrosis (ATN) muddy brown cast under a microscope.
- The second time I took the microphone for Chairman's Report, I did better than the first.
- Playing "Marco Polo" with my attending in his office building.
- When the care manager told me, "You are the best resident at running rounds."
- How much personal growth I underwent while rotating as the Neonatal ICU triage on the way to pediatric Emergency Department sedation resident.
- The repercussions after improperly supervising a medical student doing a HEADS exam.
- The sound of Haendel's Messiah with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Mendelssohn Choir.
- Every nurse and every patient who thanked me for my enthusiasm and good doctoring.
- The patient's wife who kissed me on the cheek after  I comforted her.
- That one attending complimented me for writing "fellow-level notes."
- The 90-year-old patient who called me "Dr. Magic" and teased that I had a healing handshake.
- When a colleague stopped me in the hallway to say he doesn't study very much but always enjoys my Teaching Rounds posts.
- That I knocked my research presentation to the Internal Medicine Department out of the park.

Once, three different people in three weeks described me as "a calm team leader." Other compliments included "lifesaver" and "consummate team player." Then there was the time a genetics fellow complimented me months later on doing a really good neurology exam on a patient.

Yes, I really posted a picture of a battery with the caption,
"On RED team, we're positive" in the team room.
I finally lost my Rocky Horror Picture Show virginity.

I also went to trivia sometimes on Wednesday evening. Once I won both a free drink and third place in the competition with a team called "TiKel Me Kristen."

The friend who sent me this note: "Lady, You are valued. You are a force to be reckoned with. You are amazing. Thinking of you."

Baseball games:
Pittsburgh Pirates vs Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field (Largo/Clearwater blog post)
We also watched the Baltimore Orioles lose to the Toronto Blue Jays at Ed Smith Stadium (Sarasota blog post)
Milwaukee Brewers vs Pittsburgh Pirates on Johns Hopkins Alumni Day
Pittsburgh Pirates vs New York Mets on a HOT day at the end of July
Butler Bluesox vs Kokomo Jackrabbits with new friends in the Home of the Jeep

Also, we attended Pitt Gymnastics vs North Carolina State, Temple, and Towson University. This was a neat date, since our third date ever was to a Towson gymnastics meet. We also had a hot date at the hospital cafeteria together.

DH and I shared the experience of a lifetime with some artistic friends at a concert called "Into the Earth" that literally took place IN A CAVE. These are some of the same people with whom we went on retreat, retreat! to Raccoon Creek State Park.

Presenting in Los Angeles with the American Association for the History of Medicine and in Pittsburgh with the German Studies Association. I'll be at both conferences in 2019, in Columbus, OH, and in Portland, OR.

Enjoying the floral displays at the Phipps Botanical Garden for Valentine's Day, in the spring, and the holiday decorations with friend J.B. [post and pics coming!].

Finally, DH and I adopted Rosamunde "Rosie" from the local humane society. She has fattened up nicely, has a beautiful coat and glorious purr, and there will surely be many more photos of her on this blog.

I had HOPED to share I had finally gotten my first solo academic history piece published, but it still hasn't happened yet. I am looking forward to being recruited to join the Pitt faculty without the need for further training (i.e. a fellowship, a medical education degree).

Editor's Note: You can find previous years' blog posts here: 2017, 2016, 2015 Parts 1 and 2.